The four (so-called) difficult grammar points…
Just like learning any language, learning how to speak French requires a few efforts and a good amount of perseverance.
Of course, the vocabulary, the masculine and the feminine as well as the « vous » and the « tu » are challenging grammar points for an English speaking person but besides these minor difficulties, you will save yourself an enormous amount of time and struggle by making sure you master these 4 points:
1) The French Conjugation:
Within just a few hours, you can easily understand the French modes and tenses. You need to know that some tenses are not used anymore and others are used all the time like the famous Subjonctive which is both convenient and so simple to manipulate.
You also need to know that Reflexive verbs (se lever) represent another strange system but with a little practice, it is quite easy to use them.
The rest is just a matter of memorizing the endings according to the person. It’s not that hard…
2) The French Pronouns:
After you memorize a small chart, all you need to know is what is the function of the pronoun in a sentence: direct object, indirect object, reflexive or stressed pronoun. You also need to know where to place them in a sentence. A few exercices and you’re all set!
3) The French articles:
They are a little different from the English ones. First of all, you have to adapt them with the gender of the noun, then you have to know when to use a partitive article (de la confiture) or a definite article (la maison) or an indefinite article (une maison). A little bit of practice and you can be confident.
4) The French Prepositions:
You know how English verbs are used with (or without) a preposition. For example, « to give up« , « to go in« , « to take off« … Well, in French, we don’t use those prepositions as much as in English.
We mainly use the prepositions « de » and « à » (parler à = to speak to / parler de = to speak about).
After you learn a fairly short list of those verbs, you actually know how to use most French verbs.
Of course, this is just a brief description of the main points to study when you are an English speaking person.
Being a bilingual teacher, I have found that getting over those four points opens the door to fluency in the French language within a fairly small amount of time if you learn regularly or if you decide to join a French immersion session once in a while.
If those four points are understood, you can hope to speak fluently as long as you spend time listening, speaking and reading…
Alors, bon courage !